TWRA made 20 boating arrests over holiday weekend

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said its “Operation Dry Water” on Tennessee waterways netted more than 20 boating under the influence arrests over the July Fourth weekend. They also responded to several boating incidents.

TWRA spokesperson Matt Cameron said Tuesday there were no fatal incidents, but officers did respond to six serious injury incidents as well as seven property damage incidents. A total of 21 BUI arrests were made.

The TWRA’s boating officers were out patrolling area waters on the lookout for impaired boaters as part of the agency’s “Operation Dry Water” on the heels of a new Tennessee law that stiffens the penalties for boating under the influence.

TWRA officials said last week prior to the holiday weekend that the BUI law mirrors the DUI law, such as a conviction for a first offense means 48 hours in jail; however, boaters won’t lose their driver’s license for it. The law also applies to a boating accident that results in injuries and fatalities, which means an impaired boater can be charged with vehicular assault or vehicular homicide charges.

TWRA’s “Operation Dry Water” is a year-round campaign, but the agency heightened its enforcement for the July Fourth holiday weekend. The efforts are aimed at reducing the number of alcohol or drug-related incidents and fatalities on the water while increasing recreational boating awareness and safety; with TWRA acknowledging that the July Fourth weekend is a holiday known for drinking and boating as well as deadly accidents.

However, at least on Tennessee waters, no fatal boating incidents over the holiday weekend were reported.

In July 2020, during Operation Dry Water, there were eight serious injury boating-related incidents and 11 BUI arrests made.